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In a major victory for Jeff Bezos’ bulging retail and technology empire, Amazon has beaten back efforts to unionize its warehouse in Bessemer, Ala.
The e-commerce juggernaut on Friday secured more than the 1,608 votes it needed to reject a proposed union contact — shutting down a hotly contested labor battle that threatened to influence similar recruitment efforts brewing at Amazon warehouses across the country, according to the official tally released Friday.
Amazon needed just 1,608 votes, or a little more than half of the ballots cast, to defeat the union drive. It received 1,798, according to the National Labor Relations Board, which counted the votes.
Just 738 votes were cast in favor of joining the union, the NLRB said.
Only about 55 percent of the 6,000 employees at the warehouse voted in the election, according to the NLRB, dealing a crushing blow to the union that had previously claimed it had secured 5,800 supporters.
The union, meanwhile, is crying foul, saying Amazon “illegally interfered” with the voting process. The Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union said it will file a complaint with the NLRB asking for a hearing “to determine if the results of the election should be set aside.”
The union cited conduct it claims “created an atmosphere of confusion, coercion and/or fear of reprisals and thus interfered with the employees’ freedom of choice.”
About 500 of the ballots cast in Amazon’s union election were challenged before the e-commerce titan took a commanding lead, the labor group said.
Amazon contested votes “at a rate of nearly 4 to 1,” a union spokesperson said. The NLRB also made some challenges.
Amazon, which has been on a hiring spree as business expands amid the pandemic, responded to its critics.
“It’s easy to predict the union will say that Amazon won this election because we intimidated employees, but that’s not true,” it said in a statement. “Our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us. And Amazon didn’t win — our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union.”
RWDSU members in a press conference Friday vowed to continue fighting Amazon and said they believe a re-election at the Bessemer facility is “very likely,” according to president Stuart Applebaum.
He also added that the campaign was hampered by the pandemic, which “made it more difficult to hold meetings with people and to do the in-person campaigning we would have liked to do.”
“Amazon knew full well that unless they did everything they possibly could, even illegal activity, their workers would have continued supporting the union,” Applebaum said in a statement. “That’s why they required all their employees to attend lecture after lecture, filled with mistruths and lies, where workers had to listen to the company demand they oppose the union. That’s why they flooded the internet, the airwaves and social media with ads spreading misinformation.”